Sunday, July 29, 2018

How To Upcycle Thrift Shop Finds Into Trendy Home Decor: Part Two!

Thrift Shop Hot! What to look for right now...

In my previous post, "How To Upcycle Thrift Shop Finds Into Trendy Home Decor"  I shared some great tips for upcycling common thrift shop finds into swanky home decor and crafts, including silver plated serving trays, vintage scarves, maps and globes, picture frames, and old cashmere sweaters. 

Now I'm going to share with you some MORE items commonly found at thrift shops that are perfect for upcycling into fun home decor and crafts. Again, these items are great because not only are they inexpensive, but they are very much in style as current home decor. Check it out! 

What should you be looking for right now?

1)  Vintage Pie Tins & Cake Pans
I always see lots of old pie tins (aka pie plates) and pie pans when I go thrifting, and they're usually inexpensively priced from about $1 each. The neat thing about old pie tins is that you can sometimes find ones with bottoms that are embossed with vintage advertising.  

What to do with them?
Hang a collection of them on a wall as you would china plates, making a display that works well in a kitchen.
(Click here for more wall-display grouping ideas)
Or, collect a few and construct a tiered organizer or pedistal server using thrift shop found candle sticks in between. These are great for displaying items and for chic organization! Check out the photos below for inspiration.

Vintage pie tin

Metal 3-Tier Kitchen Organizer Caddy with Vintage Pie Plates

RESERVED - 2 Tier Kitchen Organizer Dessert Tray Caddy from Repurposed Vintage Items

Industrial Style Mirrors from Salvaged Tart Cake Pans; upcycle, recycle, salvage, diy, repurpose; for ideas and goods shop at Estate ReSale & ReDesign, Bonita Springs, FL
Pie tin mirrors 

Metal Tin Mirror

2)  T-Shirts
Usually there are so many t-shirts at the thrift shops I visit that the shops organize them by color instead of by size. Why are they a great deal? T-shirts are abundant at thrift shops and also cost next to nothing. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns, so they are great for repurposing and upcycling into all sorts of things.

What to do with them?
T-shirts can be quickly and easily repurposed into many different items; shopping bags, quilts, and they can even be used to cover throw pillows. My favorite thing to do with them is to restructure them into entirely new shirts. I love to do this with my old concert shirts and have made quite a few for myself!

How To Upcycle Thrift Shop Finds Into Trendy Home Decor: Part Two!
Craft an easy to make recycled t-shirt tote bag

Make an awesome recycled t-shirt rug 

Hula Hoop Rug

Hula Hoop Rug! DIY. (Do a larger rug by taking small tube PVC pipes and bending to the size circle u need. Duct tape usually holds well if you Do Not buy PVC that's too thick.
No-sew t-shirt hula hoop rug 

3)  Vintage Framed Art
I always make a point to flip through the wall art at thrift shops. As I always say, you never know what you might find! As well as looking for unusual and unique frames, I'm always on the lookout for interesting artwork too. Some things to look for that make great collections are vintage framed needlepoints, old paint by numbers art (see the first two images below), as well as original amateur art paintings and "sofa art" (that's mass produced paintings that are created for the furniture industry.

What to do with them?
Display a unique collection as a gallery wall in your home, or, if you're the artsy type, try your hand at creating an altered thrift shop painting by adding an interesting or unexpected element to an already existing scene. See below. 

Paint by numbers collection 

How to upcycle thrift shop finds: altered thrift store art

4)  Vintage Costume Jewelry
Vintage enamel flower pins, brooches, old clip on earrings - you get the picture. These vintage treasures are abundant at thrift shops, flea markets and estate sales, and the great part is that you can often find them for sale by the bagful for just a few dollars. 

What to do with them?
Not only are these great to wear as-is, they're also perfect for upcycling into new items for yourself, your family, and your home. Check out the photos below for a few examples of how some creative folks turned old costume jewelry into unique accessories.

Create a vintage brooch bridal bouquet

Vintage costume jewelry necklace

Sparkling Baby Blue Crystal and Rhinestone Jeweled Picture Frame OOAK
Frame made with vintage costume jewelry by Kat Smith via Etsy

5)  Old Books & Outdated Encyclopedias
Just like road maps, encyclopedias become outdated and are replaced with new, up to date versions. Thrift shops are the best place to find old obsolete encyclopedias, dictionaries, and the like.

What to do with them?
Use the pages for decoupage projects, or create some wonderful book page art by drawing or painting directly onto the page. Or, run the pages directly through your computer printer to create some unique personalized art (think black & white family photos printed on the old pages as shown below).

Computer printed art on old book page by Prrint via Etsy (above and below)

(Check out my previous post Bookish for lots of ideas of things you can make with old books and pages!)

What do you think?
What's your favorite way to repurpose thrift shop finds?

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I hope you enjoyed this post! 
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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2020 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link corrections please leave correct info in comment area.

Originally published July 3, 2012, refreshed and updated for relevancy


  1. I looooove the vintage pie cans and related items!!
    I wish I had those wall decorations.

  2. you are wonderful in every way ! thankyou i will be watching you ;)

  3. Great idea! Stop over to my shop if you are looking for any of the tin items mentioned above. :))

  4. It is the 2nd day of spring and I am ready to hit some garage sales. So much fun. This post has got my creative side bubbling over.

  5. LOVE these creative ideas! Thanks for sharing them with us. :)

  6. I'm going to look at old sweaters in a new way now. Thanks for your creativity :)

  7. Gah!!! I am supposed to be doing laundry and all I want to do is go to the thrift shops!!

  8. Nice round up of very unique and creative up cycled projects!!

  9. Love your ideas and projects completed! great-waiting for your book to come out Boho Jewelry Fabulous

  10. So glad I stumbled on your site!!! I have piles of stuff I find and think " wow I could make something with this " that's as far as I get. You are an inspiration

  11. Wow. Your ideas are wonderful. I can't wait to get started.

  12. So clever ideas! Love the t-shirt up-cycling projects. I have few tons of old tees and recycling/up-cycling them in some way is much better than throwing them away. Thanks for the great ideas!

  13. I wish I had seen this before I gave away all of hubbies old T's. Love the totes.
    My absolute favorite is the pie tins with the rolling pin. Killer idea.

  14. These are wonderful ideas. Thanks! Is it a laser copy transfer on the coasters, or is it the actual book page glued down? Looks great.

    1. Not sure, you would have to experiment - I would try decoupage medium such as ModPodge! and then lots of layers and or spray acrylic sealant to make them waterproof.